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Tough Job Interview Questions You Should Ask

Show interest and confidence by bringing up these topics with your future employer

7. Does the company encourage entrepreneurial-type projects?

An increasing number of companies large and small are offering workers the freedom, flexibility and resources to work like an entrepreneur. The buzzword for it: intrapreneurship. An employer or manager who creates a work environment that encourages and supports entrepreneurial culture and opportunities for work on projects outside your direct responsibility can make a huge difference in your happiness at work.

8. What types of mentoring programs do you offer?

You might go a step further and add that you enjoy mentoring younger workers, and you've also benefited from pairing up with a younger worker who reverse-mentors you — offering help with technology, social media and so on.

"Drop this one into the category of questions that demonstrate you're not hiding your age or trying to present yourself as 20 years younger," Schlafly says.

But it goes deeper. This shows you're hip to the underlying perception of intergenerational tension in the workplace. It also demonstrates your willingness to work with younger coworkers. And it shows that you are comfortable reporting to a boss who may be younger than you.

9. What's the salary range for this position? This is the proverbial elephant in the room. You want to know what the job really pays and find out about benefits such as health insurance, child care, vacation and a 401(k) or retirement plan. It seems impolite to bring this up in the initial interview, but if you have the chutzpah, this question can work to your advantage.

You probably don't need to go for the whole ball of wax, but getting a sense of the pay is paramount for most of us. Preface it by saying that the reason you're intrigued by the job, of course, does not revolve around money, but you would be interested in knowing what the range might be.

Chances are, there will be a pause, but you will get a ballpark answer. And then it's up to you to acknowledge it, while holding on to your poker face. This is not a time to make any verbal or nonverbal sign that it's copacetic. You want to save negotiating for when a formal offer is on the table.

On the flip side, if the interviewer refuses to answer, that says something about the company's guarded style that might not sit well with you in the long run. In truth, this kind of information should not be a mystery at this stage of your career. Your best move, however, is simply to reply smoothly, without missing a beat, that you'll look forward to learning more details when the interviewer is free to share them in your next discussion. Go for a firm handshake, look your interviewer straight in the eyes with a warm smile, and offer genuine thanks for his or her time.

Remember to write a thank-you note to everyone you interviewed with that day. I personally like a handwritten one, but an email works if you shoot it off within 24 hours. In many cases, the immediacy is welcomed and effective. It's not wrong to do both, particularly if there's additional material you'd like to share with the interviewer, or if there were any questions you stumbled on or didn't answer well before you left. Use your correspondence to wrap up and leave a positive impression.

And while I'm thinking of it, thanks for taking the time to read my column.

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.

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